SABINA: Southern African Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products Network
Because of the great biodiversity of southern Africa, enhanced capacity and capability in natural products research has the potential to increase food security, public health, and value-added exports. The SABINA network trains both PhD and MSc scientists through research in the biochemistry and chemistry of natural products, including bioinformatics as an essential tool for data management and the elucidation of structure and function. Research focuses on increasing the understanding of useful plants (such as mushrooms, seaweeds, and tea crops) or fungi through the screening of assays and through study of biosynthetic pathways, gene expression, modes of action, synthetic production and genetic diversity. Accessing research facilities in the well-equipped institutions in South Africa and acquisition of research equipment and refurbishment of laboratories to support quality and innovative research in the non-South African universities constitute an innovative strengthening initiative.
Leaders and their Institutions
Academic Director and Secretariat
Prof. John D. Saka, Department of Chemistry
University of Malawi: Chancellor College
Mr. Frank Ngonda
Prof. Charles de Koning, Department of Chemistry
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Prof. Martha Kandawa-Schulz, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Science
Dr. Albert G. Changaya, Director
Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa, Malawi
Blog Entries about SABINA
Some Bacteria Like it Hot (4/13)
Modernizing the Horticulture of Tea (4/13)
Exploring the Genotype of the Tea Plant (2/13)
Ancient Remedies for Modern Diseases (1/13)
Mushrooms by the Numbers: A SABINA Master's in Bioinformatics (10/11)
Traditional Cure Inspires Biochemistry Student (10/09)
The Makings of a Natural Products Researcher (10/09)
A Better Cuppa Tea for Malawi (5/09)
Professor John D. Saka is announced as the next Vice Chancellor of the University of Malawi, effective December 2, 2013. Congratulations, Professor Saka!
SABINA announces a blog: http://naturalproductsvrenews.wordpress.com/.
|Prof Charles de Koning has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa.|
|Tinotenda Shoko's manuscript titled “Headspace volatiles of the edible fruit pulp of Parinari curatellifolia growing in Malawi using Solid Phase Microextraction” has been accepted for publication in the South African Journal of Botany.|
|Frank Ngonda's (Project Manager) manuscript titled “Evaluation of the wound healing potential of Trichodesma zeylanicum (Burm f.) formulation in excision wounds in albino rats” has been accepted for publication in the Annual Review and Research in Biology journal.|
|The SABINA PM attended a training workshop organised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) on the patent system and the role of patent information in promoting innovations and establishment of technology centers (TISC) in Malawi, 4-6 November 2013 at Mount Soche Hotel, Blantyre.|
VRE: PhD Submission - Benjamin Kumwenda. October 2013.
|Pelly Malebe, UP PhD student undertook a 6 week study visit (from 20 August to 8 October 2013) to the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya under the supervision of Dr Samson Kamunya. The visit was funded by the National Research Foundation (RSA).|
|Prof Oleg Reva (UP) and Drs Sylvester Lyantagaye and Donatha Tibuhwa (UDSM) received an NRF-RISA funded collaboration grant (R200,000 for RSA participants and US$2,200 for Tanzanian participants) for the period 2013-2015. The grant is a new opportunity for Liberata Mwita, UP PhD student to extend her collaboration work.|
August 2013: VRE: Caron Griffiths Joins the SABINA Network As the New VRE Facilitator. Jul-Aug 2013.
B. Kumwenda, D. Litthauer, Ö. Tastan Bishop, and O. Reva. Analysis of Protein Thermostability Enhancing Factors in Industrially Important Thermus Bacteria Species. Evolutionary Bioinformatics. August 18, 2013.
|Pelly Malebe, UP PhD student was granted a Women in Science Award Doctoral Fellowship amounting to R40,000 by the Department of Science and Technology, RSA at a ceremony that took place on 16 August 2013. An article about all the award winners is online here (Pelly is on pages 7 and 8).|
|Prof Charles De Koning has been invited to contribute to the forthcoming book tentatively entitled Arene Chemistry: Reaction Mechanisms and Methods for Aromatic Compounds (to be published in the second half of 2014-early 2015).|
|Dr Tanko Ishaya, University of Jos, visited the SABINA secretariat from 7-10 August 2013 on a mapping study to examine how postgraduate training and research network supported by Carnegie, are utilising ICT.|
|Adushan Pillay graduated on 2 July 2013 from the University of the Witwatersrand.|
|Benjamin Kumwenda’s (UP PhD student) manuscript titled “Analysis of protein thermostability in industrially important Thermus bacteria species” has been accepted for publication in the journal Evolutionary Bioinformatics. (update: published August 18, 2013).|
|Nicholas Mphangwe’s (UP PhD student) manuscript titled “Screening of tea (Camellia sinensis) for traits associated molecular markers” has been accepted for July publication in the journal Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology.|
POL-SABINA 2009-2012 outcomes booklet published. June 2013.
F. Ngonda. In-vitro Anti-oxidant Activity and Free Radical Scavenging Potential of roots of Malawian Trichodesma zeylanicumm (burm. f.). Asian Journal of Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences. Vol 3, Issue 20. June 10, 2013.
|The Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa organised a field day on 18 May 2013 under the theme “Research for adapting to ever-changing climatic and socio-economic tea production challenges.” Mr Kennedy Ngwira of the Chemistry Department, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, represented the Academic Director of SABINA. An article about the event is here.|
|SABINA held a staff and phase 3 second planning meeting on 6 June 2013 at the University of Pretoria, RSA.|
|POLSABINA organised an information booklet launch and project closure event on 7 June 2013 at the University of Pretoria, RSA. The event was attended by Prof Anton Stroh, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and Prof Stephanie Burton, Vice Principal; Research and Post-Graduate Education, UP as Guestsof Honor.|
|Petrina Kapewangolo’s (UP PhD student) manuscript titled “Inhibition of HIV-1 enzymes, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of Plectranthus barbatus” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. (update: published August 2013.)|
|The Project Manager participated in the “ei4Africa Thematic workshop: on to e-science” that took place on 2 May 2013, Lilongwe, Malawi. From the meeting outputs, discussions are underway between Dr Martie van Deventer and Prof Roberto Barbera on exploring the possibility of linking up CHAIN RED projects and the SABINA VRE.|
|Kumbukani Nyirenda, UNIMA PhD student submitted his thesis “Biological activity and phytochemistry of Azadirachta indica A. Juss (Meliaceae), Trichilia emetica Vahl (Meliaceae), Moringa oleifera Lam. (Moringaceae) and Fadogia ancylantha Schwienf (Rubiaceae) from Malawi” on 30 April 2013 to the department for both external and internal examination.|
|Secilia Ilonga graduated on 26 April 2013 from the University of Namibia..|
Liberata Mwita has commenced PhD studies at UP. She will be jointly supervised by Prof Oleg Reva, University of Pretoria and Dr Sylvester Lyantagaye, University of Dar es Salaam.
Prof John Saka presented a paper entiltled "Linking fruits and nuts for improved nutrition and health in Southern Africa" at the ICRAF Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health Regional Workshop from 8-9 April, 2013 at the Golden Peacock Hotel, Lilongwe, Malawi.
VRE newsletter: Tshidi Moroka's Story. March 2013.
|Godwil Madamombe, University of Pretoria PhD student, visited the Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa, Mulanje, Malawi from 22-26 February 2013 to process tea (black tea) samples using the Tea Craft machine. The processed samples will further be analysed for black tea characteristics/parameter at UP.|
|Tinotenda Shoko, MSc graduate from the University of Malawi–Chancellor College, has been employed at the Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe as a part time lecturer.|
|The South Africa Qualification Authority (SAQA) has accepted Ms Liberata Mwita’s credentials to register at the University of Pretoria for her PhD studies. Currently, she is processing her documents required by the South African Embassy.|
SABINA network members submitted an ACP-EU proposal entitled “Southern African Agricultural Biosciences Innovation Network (SABINNOVA)” to the ACP-EU Cooperation Programme in Science and Technology programme (ACP S& T II). The proposed project is complementary to SABINA.
T. Shoko, J.D.K. Saka, Z. Apostolides, and M. Monjerezi (Jan 2013). “Volatile constituents of fruit pulp of Strychnos cocculoides (Baker) growing in Malawi using solid phase microextraction,” South African Journal of Botany. (IF 2011, 1.659)
|The SABINA project team at its meeting in Pretoria on 13 December 2012 agreed to withdraw the MSc scholarship from Tresia Ndimwenena Iipinge for failure to register at UNAM and subsequently offered the PhD scholarship to Ms Celine Mukakalisa (pictured here). Her research topic concerns in-vitro evaluation of anticancer and antimicrobial activity and phenolic compounds profiling of selected Namibian indigenous vegetables.|
|SABINA Project Manager Frank Ngonda's 2nd manuscript titled "Extraction, characterization and pharmacological evaluation of leaves and root bark of Dalbergiella nyasae (Baker f.)" has been published in publication in the Pharmacognosy Journal. DOI: 10.5530/pj.2012.34.12. Dec 2012 | Vol 4 | Issue 34, Pp. 69-76. (co-authors include Z. Magombo, P. Mpeketula and J. Mwatseteza).|
P. Kapewangolo. HIV-1 Inhibitory and Anti-Inflammatory properties of South African Lamiaceae species. 8th Conference of the Federation of African Immunological Societies, Durban, South Africa. 2-5 December 2012.
|Dr Sylvester Lyantagaye has been awarded US $271,172 from NIH through H3AbioNet for bioinformatics capacity building at UDSM for the next 5 years.|
|Dr Oleg Reva has been awarded R97,500 from GRC/IRT at University of Pretoria for complete genome sequencing as additional support to Liberata Mwita PhD project.|
|Adushan Pillay’s (WITS PhD student) manuscript titled “(Z)-Ethyl 2-hydroxy-4-oxo-4-(1,4,5,6,8-pentamethoxy-naphthalen-2-yl)but-2-enoate” has been accepted for publication in the Acta Crystallographica Section E: Structure Reports Online journal. Acta Cryst. (Dec 2012).E69, 054-055 doi: 10. 1107/S1600536812049203.|
|SABINA held a staff and phase 3 planning meetings from 13-14 December 2012 at the University of Pretoria, RSA.|
B. Kumwenda. Radiation interception dynamics within the tea bush canopy under continuous mechanical harvesting. 1st TRFCA Tea Technologies Symposium, Mulanje, Malawi. 26 November 2012.
|Tinotenda Shoko graduated on 26 October 2012 at the University of Malawi congregation held at the College of Medicine.|
|Liberata Mwita from Tanzania accepted to pursue PhD studies at the University of Pretoria under the mentorship of Prof Oleg Reva and Dr Sylvester Lyantagaye. Meanwhile, she is processing her registration at the University.|
Frank Ngonda(Project Manager) had a manuscript published as follows:
|University of Dar es Salaam has acquired Spectra Nano equipment from Optima Scientific (Pty) Limited, South Africa. The staff members at the Department of Chemistry were trained in the operation of the equipment on 9 November 2012 by Mr. Stuart Mailer from Optima Scientific.|
|The Chemistry Department, Chancellor College received the consignment of the GC and associated accessories on 13 November, 2012 and team from Chemetrix(Pty) Limited, South Africa is expected to come to Malawi for a training in the operation in the second week of December 2012.|
A. Pillay, A.L. Rousseau, M.A. Fernandes, and C.B. de Koning (Oct 2012). “The synthesis of the pyranonaphthoquinones dehydroherbarin and anhydrofusarubin using Wackeroxidation methodology as a key step and other unexpected oxidation reactions with cericammonium nitrate and salcomine.” Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, 10:7809‐7819. (IF 2011, 3.696)
C.B. de Koning. The Synthesis of Oxygen Containing Heterocycles. UCT Symposium on Recent Progress in the Synthesis of Biologically Active Compounds, Plenary lecture, Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa. 28-30 October 2012.
SABINA Update. 2012 RISE Annual Meeting. Dar es Salaam. October 12, 2012.
|Nicholas Mphangwe, a UP PhD student is on a 3-month (10 September to 10 November 2012) field tour at the Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa (TRFCA) to conduct drought tolerance experiments using the Rain Shelter facility on his research topic: Identification of Molecular Markers Assisted Selection for Drought Tolerance in Tea Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze.|
|Dr. Justin Omolo’s second manuscript entitled: “Bioassay-Guided Investigation of the Tanzanian Plant Pyrenacantha kaurabassana for Potential Anti-HIV-Active Compounds” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Natural Products.|
|Liberata Mwita, UDSM MSc student successfully defended her MSc studies on 24 September 2012 and she is expected to graduate on 27 October 2012. The thesis dissertation is entitled Bioactivity and Bioinformatics Characterization of Compounds from Coprinus species.|
|Dr John Becker, Director of ACGT, RSA visited the SABINA nodes (Malawi and South Africa) in October 2012 for discussions with members and students. In the picture, he was meeting with the Deputy Head of Chemistry at the University of Malawi - Chancellor College, Dr Maurice Monjerezi.|
B. Kumwenda, D. Litthauer and O. Reva. Analysis of predicted thermostable proteins for potential biotechnology application in Thermus bacteria. International Conference on Bioinformatics and Computational Biology – BIOCOMP BG 2012, Varna, Bulgaria. 20-21 September 2012.
B. Kumwenda, D. Litthauer and O. Reva. Determination of protein thermostability in Thermus bacteria for biotechnology application. SAGC and SASBCB Joint Conference, Stellenbosch, RSA. 10-12 September 2012.
A. Pillay, A.L. Rousseau, M. A. Fernandes, and C.B. de Koning, (Sept 2012). "Wackeroxidation methodology for the synthesis of the benzo‐fused acetalcore of marticin." Tetrahedron, 68: 7116‐7121. (IF 3.025, 2011)
J.J. Omolo, V. Maharaj, D. Naidoo, T. Klimkait, H.M. Malebo, S. Mtullu, H.V.M. Lyaruu, and C.B. de Koning (Sept 2012). “Bioassay‐guided investigation of the Tanzanian Plant Pyrenacantha kaurabassana for potential anti‐HIV‐active compounds,” Journal of Natural Products. (IF 2011, 3.128)
L. Mwita, “Bioactivity and bioinformatics characterization of compounds from Coprinus species”, MSc thesis, University of Dar es Salaam, completed September 2012, to graduate October 2012.
|Moola Nyambe, UNAM MSc student is on a 3-month study tour to the University of Pretoria from 5 September to 30 November 2012 under the mentorship of Prof Jane Morris. During this time, she will be working on her research topic: “Phytochemical and anti-microbial analysis of secondary metabolites from Diospyros lycioides and Euclea divinorum (chewing sticks)”.|
|Tinotenda Shoko’s (UNIMA MSc student) manuscript titled “Volatile constituents of fruit pulp of Strychnos cocculoides (Baker) growing in Malawi using solid phase micro extraction” has been accepted for publication in the South African Journal of Botany (see Jan 2013 updates).|
|POLSABINA organised a Policy and Support Interactive Workshop for natural product stakeholders; including small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) from 14-16 August 2012 at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria, South Africa. Delegates from all the SABINA nodes (Universities of Dar es Salaam, Namibia, Malawi, Pretoria, Witwatersrand and the research institute Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa) participated in the workshop.|
K.K. Nyirenda, J.D.K. Saka, D. Naidoo, V. Maharaj, and C.J.F. Muller (Aug 2012). “Antidiabetic, anti-oxidant and antimicrobial activities of Fadogia ancylantha extracts from Malawi,” Journal of Ethnopharmocology, 143: 372‐376. (IF 2011, 3.014)
C.B. de Koning. “The Role of Universities in Research for Developing Natural Products as Medicines.” The Innovation Hub, Pretoria, SMME Workshop, 14‐16 August 2012.
J. Becker. Complimentary partnership in natural product science that enhances human capital development and better applications of science in development. The Innovation Hub, Pretoria, SMME Workshop, 14‐16 August 2012.
V. Maharaj. Natural Product Research and Development Support to SMMEs. The Innovation Hub, Pretoria, SMME Workshop, 14‐16 August 2012.
M. van Deventer. Opening up the VRE in support of relevant SMMEs. The Innovation Hub, Pretoria, SMME Workshop, 14‐16 August 2012.
|Pelly Malebe (UP PhD student) undertook a month long training on data analysis in July 2012 at the DArT in Australia as part of her research concerns the Genetic Diversity of Selected Cultivars and Identification of Molecular Markers for Drought Tolerance in Tea Camellia sinensis (L) O. Kuntze. Golden Key has invited her to be a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society after being amongst the top 15% list of academic achievers at the University of Pretoria. The new member recognition ceremony will take place on 16 October 2012 in Pretoria.|
|Adushan Pillay’s (WITS PhD student) is a co-author of a second manuscript titled “The Synthesis of the Pyranonaphthoquinones Dehydroherbarin and Anhydrofusarubin Using Wacker Oxidation Methodology as a Key Step and Other Unexpected Oxidation Reactions with Ceric Ammonium Nitrate and Salcomine”. The manuscript has been accepted for publication in the Royal Society of Chemistry Journal of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry. 2012, DOI: 10.1039/C2OB26126J.|
|Dr Justin Omolo, UDSM is on study tour at the University of the Witwatersrand from 11 August to 9 December 2012, during which he will (i) isolate and characterize pure compounds from two anti-malarial plants and (ii) explore the synthesis of bioactive xanthones and related compounds. This work is the re-entry grant project supported by SABINA.|
C.B. de Koning. "The Synthesis of Oxygen Containing Heterocycles." University of Pretoria, Invited seminar, 27 July 2012.
|Kumbukani Nyirenda’s (UNIMA PhD student) manuscript titled "Antidiabetic, anti-oxidant and antimicrobial activities of Fadogia ancylantha extracts from Malawi” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.|
Professor Saka, Kennedy Ngwira and Kumbukani Nyirenda gave presentations on their research at Chancellor College on July 24 and 25, initiating a national dialogue on natural products research science.
T. Shoko, “A study of volatile flavour constituents of edible fruit pulps of Parinari curatellifolia, Strychnos cocculoides and leaves of Fadogiaan cylantha, Manihotes culenta and Colocasia esculenta growing in Malawi”, MSc thesis, University of Malawi, completed June 2012, to graduate October 2012.
|Adushan Pillay’s (WITS PhD student) manuscript titled "Wacker oxidation methodology for the synthesis of the benzo-fused acetal core of marticin" has been accepted for publication in Tetrahedron Letters.|
|Dr Quintino Mgani participated in the 2-day conference on “Getting and Using Equipment for Scientific Research in Africa” organised jointly by the International Foundation for Science (IFS) and African Academy of Science(AAS). The conference was held from 30-31 May 2012 at the AAS Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The report of that meeting has been shared with RISE networks by the convenor of the conference.|
|Nicholas Mphangwe, UP PhD student applied for extension of the study period in order to complete outstanding research work. Nicholas is now expected to complete his studies in July 2013.|
|Liberata Mwita, UDSM MSc student applied for 6 months extension of the study period as she was behind due to problems with her lab work. Liberata will complete her studies in July 2012.|
|Tinotenda Shoko who was at UNIMA, successfully completed his MSc studies and has since returned to Zimbabwe. He will be returning to Malawi to graduate later this year.|
S. Ilonga, “Anti‐cancer, antioxidant and antimicrobial screening of extracts from Ziziphus mucronata, Heliotropium ciliatum and Gnidia polycephala from Otjikoto region (Namibia)”, MSc thesis, University of Namibia, completed May 2012, to graduate April 2013.
P. Kapewangolo. “Anti‐HIV screening of selected plant species belonging to the Lamiaceae family.” Department of Biochemistry, University of Pretoria, 18 May 2012.
|POLSABINA/SABINA handed over the Rain shelter to the Tea research Foundation for Central Africa, at a function held at TRFCA, Mulanje, Malawi on 11 May 2012. The function was graced by Malawi's Director of Agricultural Research Services, Dr Alfred Mtukuso, who was the Guest of Honour. The Vice Chairperson of TRFCA Board, Mr Jones, was also present. The local media covered the event very well here.|
|SABINA held a staff meeting at the Tea Association Conference Centre, Blantyre, Malawi on 10 May 2012. During the meeting, members agreed that Dr Justin Omolo and Mr Kennedy Ngwira would become new project staff members. The meeting further welcomed Dr Albert Changaya, Director of TRFCA, as the Institutional representative.|
|Ms Secilia Ilonga has turned down the offer to undertake PhD studies since she is taking up a post as a Technologist at the School of Pharmacy, UNAM. The SABINA Secretariat is engaging the Network to identify a suitable replacement.|
A. Pillay. “Synthesis of a potential anti‐tumour naphthoquinones.” University of Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, 15 April 2012.
Tinotenda Shoko, UNIMA MSc student successfully defended his MSc dissertation titled “A Study of Volatile Flavour Constituents of Edible Fruit Pulps of Parinari curatellifolia, Strychnos cocculoides and Leaves of Fadogia ancylantha, Manihot esculenta and Colocasia esculenta Growing in Malawi” on 12 April 2012. Meanwhile, he is making some corrections for final submission of his thesis.
The POLSABINA Secretariat will hand over the rain shelter to the Tea Research Foundation for Central Africa (TRFCA), Mulanje, Malawi on 11 May 2012. The TRFCA is a member of the SABINA network.
VRE Newsletter: Justin Omolo's Story. Mar 2012.
|Petrina Kapewangolo, UP PhD student, received top honours and scholarship award from Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund amounting to US$4,000 to contribute towards tuition and expenses during her doctoral studies.|
|Ken Ngwira, who was at UDSM, successfully completed his MSc studies and has since returned to University of Malawi. He will return to Tanzania to graduate in September, 2012.|
|-||The project has offered Mrs. Tresia Ndiimwenena Iipinge from the University of Namibia a fellowship to pursue MSc studies at at UDSM, mentored by Drs Sylvester Lyantagaye and Quintino Mgani. Her provisional research topic is “Screening of Kylinga alata extracts for antimicrobial activity against some common pathogenic bacteria of the respiratory system”.|
|Miss Lydia Kisula from Tanzania will study for an MSc at UNIMA where she will work on “Natural products of priority neutraceuticals from edible plants and fruits”. She will be jointly supervised by Prof John Saka and Drs Quintino Mgani and Vinesh Maharaj.|
K. Ngwira, “Phytochemical and biological studies of secondary metabolites from Berberis holstii”, MSc thesis, University of Dar es Salaam, completed February 2012, to graduate October 2012.
|Dr Justin Omolo, University of Dar es Salaam submitted a re-entry grant proposal application titled “Phytochemistry and synthesis of bioactive xanthones and pure compounds from plants used for treatment of malaria” to the SABINA International Advisory Committee for review and recommendation to SABINA for possible funding.|
|Jimmy Sumani, PhD student completed his registration process at WITS and subsequently commenced research work under the mentorship of Prof Charles De Koning.|
|Godwil Madamombe, UP PhD student gave a presentation at the 2nd All Africa Horticultural Congress at Skukuza, Kruger National Park, South Africa, 15-20 January 2012. The title of the paper was “Yield and quality decline in vegetative propagated cultivar tea (Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze) under continuous harvesting”.|
Eleven applications (3 female) were received for 2011/12 SABINA MSc Fellowship. A dossier containing the applications and supporting documents has been circulated to the project members for review.
J. Omolo, M. M. Johnson, S. F. van Vuuren, C. B. de Koning, (Dec 2011). "The synthesis of xanthones, xanthenediones and spirobenzofurans: Their antibacterial and antifungal activity," Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 21: 7085‐7088. (IF 2.554, 2011)
J. Omolo. “Bioassay‐guided isolation and synthetic studies on natural products obtained from Tanzanian medicinal plants”, PhD thesis, The University of the Witwatersrand, December 2011.
|Justin Omolo, WITS PhD student submitted his final PhD Thesis on 2 December 2011 and was recommended for the award of PhD. He will graduate in June 2012. Meanwhile, Dr Omolo has since returned to the University of Dar es Salaam and is developing a re-entry grant proposal for possible funding by SABINA.|
|Kumbukani Nyirenda, UNIMA PhD student made a presentation at the Malawi National AIDS Commission Dissemination Workshop, Lilongwe, Malawi last month on 28 November. The title of the paper was “Phytochemical Profile and Biological activity of three selected plants traditionally used for the treatment of HIV and opportunistic diseases in Malawi.”|
K. Gounder, E. Brzuszkiewicz, H. Liesegang, A. Wolherr, R. Daniel, G. Gottschalk, O. Reva, B. Kumwenda, M. Srivastava, C. Bricio, J. Berenguer, E. van Heeden, D. Litthauer. Sequence of the hyperplastic genome of the naturally competent Thermus scotoductus SA-01. BMC Genomics, 24 Nov. 2011:12:577. (IF 4.07, 2011, open access journal)
B. Kumwenda. Evolution by genome rearrangement in Thermus sp. Bacteria (Poster). 6-9 November 2011, South African Society for Microbiology Congress, Cape Town, South Africa.
|Kumbukani Nyirenda, UNIMA PhD student completed a 3 month study tour of CSIR, South Africa under the mentorship of Dr. Vinesh Maharaj and currently plans are underway to explore the use of the mini processing plant at TRFCA-Mulanje, Malawi for value addition to indigenous herbal tea.|
|Prof Oleg Reva conducted a 5 day (14-18 November 2011) lecture course on “Introduction to Phylogenetics” at the University of Dar Salaam which attracted 22 master’s students and staff members with support from POLSABINA and SABINA.|
J.D.K. Saka. SABINA Progress Report for 2010/11. 14 October 2011, RISE Annual Meeting. Kampala, Uganda. Drs John Becker, Quintino Mgani and Martha Kandawa-Schulz and Mr Frank Ngonda also participated in the RISE Annual meeting held in Kampala, Uganda from 13-16 October.
A. Pillay. Synthesis of a Potential Anti-tumour naphthoquinones. 7 October 2011, Chemical Process Technologies (CPT), Pretoria, South Africa.
J. Omolo. Anti-HIV Xanthones from Tanzanian Medicinal Plants: Isolation and the Development of Novel Synthetic Methodology. 5-7 October 2011, TCS International Conference, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
K. Ngwira. Phytochemical and Biological Studies of Secondary Metabolites from Berberis holstii. 5-7 October 2011, TCS International Conference, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
|Adushan Pillay, WITS PhD student received a prize for 2nd best PhD presentation in the South African Chemist Institute Young Chemist Symposium held at Vaal University of Technology on 14 October 2011. He presented a paper titled “Synthesis of a Potential Anti-tumour Agent: Marticin.”|
|Pelly Malebe, UP student presented a poster titled “Molecular Markers for Drought Tolerance in Tea” at the 4th Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum held at the Agricultural Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa on 20 October 2011.|
SABINA members and fellows attended a short course in Business Management from 18-19 October 2011 at the University of Pretoria organised by POLSABINA.
J. Omolo. The Synthesis of Bioactive Xanthones and Related Products Inspired by Natural Products Isolated from Tanzanian Medicinal Plants. 28 September 2011, WITS School of Chemistry Seminar.
A. Pillay. Synthesis of a Potential Anti-tumour naphthoquinones. 26-28 September 2011, ASSAf DST NRF Second Annual Young Scientists Conference, Pretoria, South Africa.
J.D.K. Saka. Traditional medicine research in Malawi. 18-19 September 2011, CSIR, South Africa.
B. Kumwenda. Genome rearrangements and metabolic gene clustering in Thermus scotoductus SA-01 (Poster). 5-7 September 2011, Society for General Microbiology Conference, York University, United Kingdom.
|Prof John Saka visited University of Pretoria and CSIR, RSA from 17-20 September 2011. During the visit, he presented a paper at CSIR titled “Traditional medicine research in Malawi” and held supervisory discussions with Drs Vinesh Maharaj and Dashnie Naidoo involving the PhD student, Kumbukani Nyirenda (UNIMA PhD student on a 3 month study tour of CSIR). Furthermore, he participated in an urgent SABINA project planning meeting with Prof Jane Morris and Ella Nyakunu at ACGT.|
|Justin Omolo's (Wits PhD student) manuscript titled "The synthesis of xanthones, xanthenediones and spirobenzofurans: Their antibacterial and antifungal activity” has been accepted for publication in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters (see Dec 2011).|
Financial Managers of SABINA nodes will be participating in the POLSABINA/SABINA Financial Training workshop at the University of Pretoria from 27 September -1 October 2011.
|Kennedy Ngwira, MSc student is at UDSM after a 6 month study tour at CSIR. He is very busy writing his thesis on “Phytochemical and Biological studies of Secondary Metabolites from Berberis holstii”. Dr Quintino Mgani continues to provide the desired technical guidance and mentorship.|
|Pelly Malebe has commenced PhD studies at UP. She will be supervised by Prof Zeno Apostolides.|
|Jimmy Sumani has received an offer letter at WITS for his doctoral studies under the supervision of Prof Charles de Koning. He is concluding the acquisition of the study permit in Malawi and is expected to commence studies at the beginning of September.|
|Following the visit in June 2011 to the University of Namibia, Prof Jane Morris, Dr Kandwa-Schultz and student Moola Nyambe are engaged in active exchange of information through the VRE. Ms Nyambe is working on “Phytochemical and Anti-microbial Analysis of Secondary Metabolites from Diospyros lycioides and Euclea divinorum (chewing sticks)”.|
Student Robert Christopher (from the WIO-RISE network) is visiting Wits for two months (August-September) to use the NMR, IR, and MS facilities to elucidate the compounds he has isolated from two plants under the supervision of Prof Charles de Koning.
|Justin Omolo will submit his PhD thesis at the end of October 2011 and will give his “exit seminar” at the University of the Witwatersrand on 28 September.|
|Kumbukani Nyirenda is currently at CSIR on a 3 month study tour under the supervision of Dr Vinesh Maharaj.|
B. Kumwenda. Comparative analysis of completely sequenced Thermus scotoductus SA-01 and Thermus thermophilus HB8 and HB27 (Poster). 17-19 July 2011, International Society for Molecular Biology/European Society for Computational Biology Conference, Vienna, Austria.
|Pelly Malebe, UP MSc student successfully defended her MSc dissertation titled “Development of Molecular Marker Assisted Selection for Drought Tolerance in Tea Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze” on 27 June 2011. She is preparing a draft manuscript for publication. She is now processing her admission into the PhD programme at the same University; this will be set in July.|
|Tinotenda Shoko, UNIMA MSc student has submitted his thesis titled “A study of volatile flavour constituents of edible fruit pulps of Parinari curatellifolia, Strychnos cocculoides and leaves of Fadogia ancylantha, Manihot esculenta and Colocasia esculenta growing in Malawi” for internal and external examination.|
|Justin Omolo, Wits PhD has had a paper titled “The Synthesis of Bioactive Xanthones and Related Products Inspired by Natural Products Isolated from a Tanzanian Medicinal Plant” accepted for presentation at the 2nd International Tanzania Chemical Society Conference, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, October 5-7, 2011.|
|Kumbukani Nyirenda, UNIMA PhD student, is currently finalising arrangements for his second visit to CSIR, South Africa on a 3 month study tour to undertake laboratory research work under the mentorship of Dr. Vinesh Maharaj from 1 August 2011. He will be carrying out a phytochemical and anti-microbial analysis of the remaining medicinal plants in his PhD research work which focuses on “Phytochemistry and Biological Activity of Four Local Plants for Treatment of Diabetes and HIV in Malawi."|
P. Malebe, "Development of molecular marker assisted selection for drought tolerance in tea (Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze)”, MSc thesis, University of Pretoria, completed June 2011, graduated September 2012.
|Pelly Malebe from RSA and Jimmy Sumani from UNIMA accepted to pursue PhD studies at the UP and WITS. Meanwhile, Pelly Malebe and Jimmy Sumani are processing registration with the universities.|
|Secilia Ilonga from University of Namibia has been offered a SABINA fellowship to pursue PhD studies at UNAM/WITS. This follows Mr. Lewis Mtashobya from UDSM turning down the offer since he is now studying for a PhD at the University of Southampton-UK.|
|Benjamin Kumwenda, PhD student at UP presented a poster titled “Comparative genomics study of completely sequenced Thermus sp. Strains to enhance and facilitate their application in biotechnology for thermostable enzyme biosynthesis” at the International Society for Computational Biologists (ISCB) conference held at Cape Town International Convention Centre from 9-11 March and also at the Young Researchers Forum for the ISCB on 5 March 2011 at the University of Cape Town.|
|Godwil Madamombe, PhD student at UP is currently on a study tour at TRFCA, Chipinge, Zimbabwe for field research.|
The Project Team is finalising the selection and invitation of the three PhD fellows under the second phase funding.
L. Mwita, S. Lyantagaye and A. Mshandete. “The effect of the interaction of varying chicken manure supplement levels with three different solid sisal wastes substrates on sporocarp cap lengths and diameters, stipe lengths and diameters and dry weights of Coprinus cinereus (Schaeff) S. Gray s.lat”. African Journal of Biotechnology. Feb 2011, 10(7), 1172-1180.
K. Nyirenda. Phytochemistry and biological activity of four local plants for treatment of diabetes and HIV in Malawi. 22-25 February 2011, SABINA Annual Review Meeting, Heja Lodge, Namibia.
P. Malebe. Development of Molecular Marker Assisted Selection for Drought Tolerance in Tea (Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze). 22-25 February 2011, SABINA Annual Review Meeting, Heja Lodge, Namibia.
M. Nyambe. Phytochemical and anti-microbial analysis of secondary metabolites from Diospyros lycioides and Euclea divinorum (Chewing sticks). 22-25 February 2011, SABINA Annual Review Meeting, Heja Lodge, Namibia.
L. Mwita. Bioactive compounds from mushrooms of genus Coprinus. 22-25 February 2011, SABINA Annual Review Meeting, Heja Lodge, Namibia.
N. Mphangwe. Identification of molecular markers associated with important traits in tea (Camellia Sinensis). 22-25 February 2011, SABINA Annual Review Meeting, Heja Lodge, Namibia.
P. Kapewangolo. In vitro anti-HIV evaluation of selected plant species belonging to the lamiaceae fam. 22-25 February 2011, SABINA Annual Review Meeting, Heja Lodge, Namibia.
T. Shoko. Volatile flavour constituents of selected edible plants in Malawi. 22-25 February 2011, SABINA Annual Review Meeting, Heja Lodge, Namibia.
|SABINA, with funding from POLSABINA, successfully organised a 2-day grant proposal and scientific writing training workshop for project staff and students from 21-22 February 2011 at Heja Lodge, Windhoek, Namibia. The training workshop attracted 12 students and 12 staff members and was facilitated by Prof Moses Chimbari from the University of Botswana.|
|SABINA held its Third Annual Review Meeting from 23-25 February 2011 at Heja Lodge, Windhoek, Namibia and was officially opened by Prof Kiremire, Dean of the Faculty of Science, representing the DVC-Academic Affairs and Research of the University of Namibia. During this meeting, students presented progress reports and received constructive feedback. The annual meeting was also attended by two members of the SABINA/POLSABINA International Advisory Committee, Profs Yukihiko Hara and Avrelija Cencic. The IAC team evaluated the quality of presentation with areas of improvement for both the students and the whole project. The Project Staff Meeting took place on 25 February 2011 at which the work plan for phase 2 was consolidated and agreed upon by the project members.|
J. Omolo, V. Maharaj, D. Naidoo, C. de Koning. "The Isolation of Bioactive anti-HIV Natural Products from Tanzanian Medicinal Plants," 40th National Convention of the South African Chemical Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, 16-21 January 2011.
The Secretariat commenced preparations for the SABINA/POLSABINA Third Review Meeting, which will take place from 20-26 February 2011 at Heja Lodge, Windhoek, Namibia. The Meeting will include a Grant Proposal Training Workshop. Participants in the workshop will include project members, students, POLSABINA/SABINA IAC members and other invited guests.
Arrangements for the visit of Mr. Kennedy Ngwira, studying at UDSM, to CSIR are being finalised.
December 2010: The SABINA Secretariat advertised for a third Call for Applications for PhD Studentships in all five countries of the Network. The dateline for submission of applications was 31 December 2010 and 18 applications were received. The Secretariat starting compiling the applications for the membership of the Project to review and select three candidates.
Dr. Quintino Mgani is a member of University of Dar es Salaam's Leverhulme - Royal Society Africa award-winning team. 2010.
ACGT hosts forum on regional networks to bring institutions closer together. SERA e-News. October/November 2010, Vol 7, No 6.
|Kumbukani Nyirenda and Tinotenda Shoko, PhD and MSc students returned to UNIMA from 6 and 3 month study tours of CSIR and UP respectively to continue research studies under the mentorship of Prof John Saka.|
|Arrangements are underway for Kennedy Ngwira, UDSM MSc student to move to CSIR for a 6 month study tour to finalise his research work on investigation of phytochemistry of some Malawian antimalarial plants under the mentorship of Dr. Vinesh Maharaj.|
|Frank Ngonda, SABINA Project Manager visited ACGT, Pretoria, South Africa from 11-13 November 2010 for a preliminary planning meeting for the SABINA Annual meeting to be held in Windhoek, Namibia from 19-26 February 2011 which will be co-sponsored by POL-SABINA.|
SABINA/POL SABINA training courses in Project Management, Phylogenetics and HPLC. University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. 29 August - 4 September, 2010. (Background information here.) Project staff and students participated in a 6-day SABINA Project Management, HPLC & Bioinformatics training workshop (29 August-5 September 2010) hosted by University of Pretoria. The team visited the research facilities at CSIR and WITS as part of the nodes familiarization programme.
Project staff held a staff meeting on 2nd September 2010 at which a 5 member POLSABINA/SABINA International Advisory Committee was constituted.
University of Pretoria will host a 6-day SABINA Project Management, HPLC & Bioinformatics training workshop (3 day parallel sessions for HPLC & Bioinformatics and 2 day Project management session) for project members and students from 29 August - 5 September 2010.
|TRFCA and SABINA secretariat hosted POL-SABINA Project Manager, Ella Nyakunu from 13-16 July, 2010 on her tour of institutions implementing activities under the EU-ACP funded programme.|
|Ms. Petrina Kapewangolo, PhD student under mentorship of Prof. Debra Meyer from UNAM has completed the registration process at the University of Pretoria.|
|PhD student Justin Omolo has completed a 1½year research attachment at CSIR under the mentorship of Dr. Vinesh Maharaj and has since moved to Wits University for further research work under Prof Charles de Koning.|
|MSc student Kennedy Ngwira has successfully completed first year courses at UDSM and has started his second year research work under the mentorship of Dr Quintino Mgani.|
|Prof Debra Meyer, principal investigator of the HIV/AIDS Laboratory of the Biochemistry Department of the UP has joined SABINA network as a project member. Her research involves metabonomics for detecting HIV/AIDS biomarkers, metallodrug development and designing synthetic peptide vaccine components. She will be supervising Petrina Kapewangolo, a PhD student from Namibia.|
|Tinotenda Shoko, MSc student at UNIMA is on a 3-month study tour at UP, South Africa to undertake further research work under the mentorship of Prof Zeno Apostolides. His MSc focuses on the flavour chemistry of some indigenous fruits and vegetables in Malawi.|
|Ella Nyakunu, started working on 1st June 2010 as Project Manager for the EU funded POL-SABINA programme (Policy and Support Actions for SABINA) and will be based at ACGT, Pretoria, South Africa. She holds an MSc in Food Science from the University of Zimbabwe and before joining POLSABINA, she worked as a Project Manager at the CIDA City Campus, Johannesburg.|
|Arrangements are underway for Tinotenda Shoko, UNIMA MSc student to move to UP for his further laboratory work concerning “Flavour chemistry of some Malawian fruits and vegetables.”|
The network is instituting a 5-member POL-SABINA International Advisory Committee. Until now 7 candidates from across the world have submitted their curriculum vitae for consideration and finalisation of the Committee is expected by 31 May 2010.
J. Morris and J.D.K. Saka, "Establishing a Southern African Natural Products Partnership", BiovisionAlexandria 2010. Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Cairo, Egypt. 11-15 April 2010.
|Kumbukani Nyirenda, PhD student at UNIMA is on a 6 month study tour at CSIR, South Africa to undertake laboratory research work under the mentorship of Dr Vinesh Maharaj. He is studying the phytochemistry of some medicinal plants from Malawi. His PhD focuses on the Chemistry and Medicinal Potential of Five Malawian Plants.|
|Liberata Mwita, MSc student at UDSM completed a 7-week short course (Introduction to Bioinformatics) at Cape Town and moved to University of Pretoria for advanced courses in bioinformatics studies on 2 April, 2010.|
|Benjamin Kumwenda, Bioinformatics PhD student reported for studies at UP. His PhD research project focuses on Comparative genomics study of completely sequenced Thermus sp. strains to enhance and facilitate their application in biotechnology for thermos table enzyme biosynthesis under the mentorship of Dr Oleg Reva.|
|Godwil Madamombe, a PhD student, has finalised the registration process at UP and is currently attending modules and seminars.|
|Adushan Pillay, a PhD student, has completed his registration at WITS and is currently doing research work.|
Moola Nyambe, an MSc student at UNAM, has completed registration and is currently attending classes.
Project members are in the process of reaching a consensus on the possible dates for the networks project management workshop + HPLC + Phylogenetics.
February 2010: Dr. Margareth S. Kyewalyanga and Dr. Musa Chacha, WIO-RISE Academic Director and Technical Coordinator respectively, had productive discussions on strengthening collaboration with the SABINA secretariat from February 7-9.
Kumbukani Nyirenda, a PhD student, is finalizing the registration process at the University of Malawi and arrangements are underway for his travel to CSIR in April 2010.
Godwil Madamombe, a PhD student, has started the registration process at the University of Pretoria.
Benjamin Kumwenda has been offered a SABINA scholarship and has been admitted to pursue a PhD in bioninformatics at the University of Pretoria. He is presently processing his travel and study permits.
Dr Sylvester Lyantagaye from the University of Dar es Salaam is participating in a theoretical course on “Mouse Genetics: Models for Human Diseases" at the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy from February 22-25.
The SABINA Secretariat has submitted a proposal on strengthening research management to SIG/RISE which is being planned for June/July 2010.
C.B. de Koning and A. Pillay (2010). "The Synthesis of Novel Bioreductive Alkylating Quinones”, 11th Frank Warren Conference on Organic Chemistry, Pietermaritzburg, 17-21 January 2010.
Liberata Mwita, an MSc student, has completed registration at UDSM. Meanwhile, logistical arrangements are underway for her travel to UP to attend bioinformatics courses.
SABINA had an annual review meeting from December 2-4 at Chancellor College in Zomba, Malawi. A group photo from the event is below.
|A 5 member team comprised of Prof. John Saka, Prof. Jane Morris, Dr. Martha Kandawa-Schulz, Dr. Sylvester Lyantagaye and Mr. Frank Ngonda participated in the RISE Annual meeting from 27-29 September at the Nairobi Hilton Hotel in Kenya. A progress report was presented.|
All six students offered a SABINA fellowship in the second round have now accepted and the process of registration has commenced within the various institutions.
The SABINA network hosted Ms. Arlen Hastings, the Executive Director of the Science Initiative Group, in October 2009. She visited the University of Malawi, the Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa Head Office, the African Centre for Gene Technologies, the University of Pretoria and the University of Namibia.
J.D.K. Saka, "Partnership in Basic Science Enhances Human Capital Development and Better Application of Science in Development: Experiences From IPICS Funding and SABINA Project in Southern Africa" (abstract here), Regional and Interregional Cooperation to Strengthen Basic Sciences in Developing Countries. United Nations Conference Centre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 1-4 September 2009. (Full conference proceedings are available here.)
Four PhD (1 female and 3 males) and two female MSc candidates have been offered SABINA fellowships in the second cohort. Offer letters have been sent to each candidate.
July 2009: The sixth candidate of the first group, Kennedy Ngwira from Malawi, is now at University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and has started his Masters in Applied Chemistry Studies.
June 2009: Thirty one applications--21 MSc (12 females) and 10 PhD (3 females)--were received for 2009/2010 SABINA fellowships. A dossier containing the applications and supporting documents has been circulated to project members for review.
The proposal submitted to the EU-ACP call has passed the first evaluation stage and the response to the full evaluation is being awaited. The network has at least a 50% chance of success to leverage the RISE funding.
|Mr. Frank Ngonda, the Project Manager, reported for duties on 21 May, 2009. Mr Ngonda previously worked for the Ministry of Health and Population as its Project Manager for the Traditional Medicine Project. He is now developing a work plan for the first year detailing major activities, milestones and outputs for the project.|
|Nicholas Mphangwe from Malawi has now received his study permit from the South African High Commission in Lilongwe, Malawi and is due to travel to the University of Pretoria early next month.|
|Mr. Tinotenda Shoko from Zimbabwe at the University of Malawi is working on his thesis proposal which is due for presentation in July 2009.|
April 2009: A Project Manager has been appointed at the University of Malawi and is due to start work on 4 May 2009. A brief profile and photo will be provided in the next report.
The majority of the students are in place and have commenced work on their thesis proposals under the guidance of their supervisors.
|Justin Omolo from Tanzania has been registered at the University of the Witwatersrand under the supervision of Prof Charles de Koning. Justin will be spending his first year at the CSIR in Pretoria under the co-supervision of Dr Vinesh Maharaj, working on some plants from Tanzania with potential anti-HIV properties.|
|M. Pelly Malebe has registered at Pretoria for an MSc under the supervision of Prof Apostolides. She replaces Ms. Mariet Wium who withdrew from the programme. Ms. Malebe will be confirming the validity of a molecular marker for drought tolerance in tea, and developing a map of the global genetic diversity in tea plants. A co-supervisor from Malawi is still being confirmed.|
|Nicholas Mphangwe from Malawi has been accepted for admission at the University of Pretoria and is sorting out the details of his visa. He should be in a position to start his project soon. He is permanently employed by the Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa (TRFCA) and will be working on a project to identify molecular markers for traits of interest, to support the tea breeding programme. A member of the staff at the TRFCA will probably act as a co-supervisor.|
|Ms. Secilia Ilonga has registered for a MSc degree at the University of Namibia. Her first year will mainly be taught coursework. She will be co-supervised by Dr. Lyantagaye at the University of Dar es Salaam.|
|Following protracted negotiations with the University of Dar es Salaam, Mr. Kennedy Ngwira from Malawi has been accepted to register as a local student and will not have to pay international registration fees.|
|Mr. Tinotenda Shoka from Zimbabwe has registered at the University of Malawi under the supervision of Prof. John Saka.|
The website address http://www.sabina-africa.org has been registered for the SABINA network and is currently being populated.
March 2009: A meeting of representatives from all SABINA institutions took place at the University of Pretoria in early December. Six MSc and PhD candidates were selected from the applicant pool. Each university in the SABINA network has at least one student supported through RISE. Students are currently working out their research topics with their supervisors.
One student has commenced PhD studies at the University of Witwatersrand; he will spend his first year in the program based at CSIR. Two other students have begun their MSc studies, one at the University of Pretoria and one at the University of Namibia. An MSc student begins studies at the University of Malawi in April. The University of Dar es Salaam has just admitted the MSc student who will be based there, and admission for PhD studies for the sixth student is pending at the University of Pretoria.
A project manager, to be based at the secretariat in Malawi, will join the project in May.